Have you ever had a mentor, someone special who has come alongside you and guided you in your Christian walk? I have been blessed with two such women in my life and I thank God for them every day.
Donna Baker came into my life way back in 1995 and although we have lived hundreds of miles apart at times, every time we get together it’s as if we just saw each other the day before.
Patricia Knight is my far-away friend whom I met online in 2003. Although Pat and I have never met in person, we share such a strong love for the Lord that our bond of friendship has strengthened immeasurably over the years.
Donna and Pat may not live nearby but they constantly live in my heart. Each of these special women has blessed me not only with the gift of friendship but also with their fully alive love for their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
This is how I picture the three of us celebrating when we are together in heaven one day. And what a wonderfully blessed time that will be!
Both Donna and Pat have experienced their share of heartache, misery and pain. Haven’t we all? But Donna and Pat have both shown me how to live joyful lives—in spite of their circumstances—because of their utter dependence on God and their belief that He always knows best. They daily show their love for and trust in God, and completely rely on Him to lead as they travel both the mountains and valleys in their lives.
Not surprisingly, Donna and Pat both love immersing themselves in the Word. Donna is the one whose example I followed all those years ago when my faith was greatly tested in the wake of two years of devastating events in my life. She was the one I turned to as I rededicated my life to the Lord and then was baptized. I had never done a Bible study before, but I followed Donna’s example and threw myself wholeheartedly into Bible reading and study. I have always been thankful for her patient guidance and sound Biblical knowledge.
Pat and I met online when we both wrote devotionals for the same ministry. I wrote to her one day to let her know how much one of her devotionals had touched me. That email led to tons of others, and even though we have never met in person, next year we will celebrate 10 years of our long-distance relationship. We have spoken by phone a few times but our daily lives don’t mesh well enough to make it possible very often. We live on opposite sides of the country so there is that 2-3 hour time difference. We also each endure chronic pain illnesses so our awake times are very different. Even though Pat lives with extreme pain most of the time, her constant encouragement and thoroughly trusting dependence on the Lord have shown me how to live joyfully no matter how I feel.
A couple of weeks ago Donna shared one of her Bible study assignments with me and I immediately knew I had to share it with all of you. So starting next week, for the next six Thankful Thursdays, I will be posting on her John 13 teaching.
Pat is the author of two devotional books, Pure Joy and REJOICE! She has graciously agreed to allow me to share some devotionals from both of these books with you, so I’ll be posting several of those treasures on Treasure Tuesdays here over the next few months.
Thank you, Donna and Pat, for allowing me to share your heart here. I don’t think either of you knows how special you are to me!
Beloved, I know you’ll be blessed by what these faithful women have written as much as I have been, so let me ask you again:
Have you ever had a mentor or someone special who has come alongside you and guided you in your Christian walk?
As part of my ongoing “Joy” theme, I’d like to share a story I wrote a few years ago. It is pure fiction except for one thing: millions of people live with physical pain—or emotional pain or financial difficulties or _______ (fill in the blank)—every single day…
JOY TO MY SOUL
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” Your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul. —Psalm 94:18-19
“Good morning!” Sherri smiled and waved, then hurried to help Macy up the ramp.
“What’s so good about it?” grumbled Macy. She stopped and leaned hard on her cane as she struggled with her shoulder bag.
“Here, let me.” Sherri slid Macy’s purse strap up higher, then gave her friend a hug. “Can I help you with your shopping?”
Macy’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d be so grateful. Today has been a pile of things gone wrong.”
Sherri helped Macy into the store’s motorized cart and then pulled a shopping cart out for herself. They moved from one aisle to the next as Sherri tried to keep the conversation light. Macy just responded with grumbles or shrugs.
At the checkout, Sherri unloaded Macy’s items onto the checkout counter before unloading her own cart. In the parking lot, she stashed Macy’s grocery bags in her trunk and then turned to help Macy out of the cart.
“There you go! Do you need any help getting this stuff put away at home?”
Macy’s eyes widened. “How can you be so nice when I’ve been so rotten to you?”
“I figured this wasn’t a great day for you when you couldn’t even appreciate the beautiful blue sky,” Sherri replied. She lightly touched Macy’s shoulder. The pain is pretty bad today, isn’t it?”
Macy nodded. “Yeah, but I had no choice. I needed so many things and I’ve been putting this off for days.” She struggled into the driver’s seat and looked at Sherri. “How do you do it?”
“You know. You look and sound so joyful when you must be feeling so bad yourself,” Macy said as she gestured to Sherri’s leg brace and the splint encasing her right wrist.
Sherri smiled. “I just picture God’s comforting arms around me, holding me close. Just the thought of that brings joy to my soul.”
Macy regarded Sherri for several moments. “You know, I should probably try that too.”
Beloved, life is not easy! But you already knew that, I’m sure. Please understand that I am not saying that thinking differently will change your circumstances. What I am saying is that changing our thinking can affect how we perceive our circumstances.
Trying to find joy in our circumstances is not easy, but I can attest to the fact that it can be done. I fail at this a lot but I’m thankful that most times I remember to reach out to the only One Who can bring true joy into my life: my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
May I pray for you about this? Please reply in the comment section below this post or shoot me an email: faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.
I am originally from upstate New York but have been living in the Southwest since 1994. This saturation of autumn color is what I miss most about living in the Northeast. I have always loved the change of color during the cool autumns in the Adirondack Mountains not too far from where I grew up.
I know many of you have already done this but I guess it’s time for this girl to dress up our home for fall!
Oh, and let’s not forget the kind of comfort cooking and eating that is just too heavy to enjoy in the summer heat. Hmm… what shall I make first? Apple or pumpkin pie? Crock pot chili or stew?
How about you? What do you do to celebrate autumn?
Reblogged from last year’s September 19th post which makes it 1 year old but always applicable…
JOY IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
“Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.””
—Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”—Job 2:10b,c
Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Doesn’t it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything—and I do mean everything—was taken away from him?
Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very general and loving man. He indeed had it all… until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.
Oh, did I say “hopeless”? Hardly.
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” —C. S. Lewis
I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me but rest assured that God has been very much at work in my life. I have been heard to say that I’d like to wipe the year 2010 from my calendar, but as I have reflected on this, I have to say now that’s not really true.
Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” is daily migraines. Last year I tried yet another medication I hoped would help but the greatest side effect was to increase the intensity and duration of my migraines plus cause me to sleep for a good portion of the day as well as at night. It wasn’t unusual for me to get 12 hours of sleep during the night and then sleep again for 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I found myself unable to do the simplest tasks and the year went by in a blur of pain.
Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the new medication had caused a host of reactions, the least of which was the increased migraine activity. Once I was completely weaned off this medication, I started feeling almost human again. Living in a haze of pain medications is no picnic!
So many times last year I felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days–when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, eating and some light household chores. I spent lots of time talking to God, wondering why this was happening to me and if it would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality God was doing a work in me that I finally understand.
Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I can now see that God has shown me how to be thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through that tough time in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are… bad!
God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the “why” of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” —Hebrews 11:1
Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith: “a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.
When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us—in spite of what our circumstances appear to be. We are ultimately acknowledging what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!
In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives—good or bad—are there to make us stronger? What if—bear with me here—we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” —George Seaton
Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?
Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m thinking that life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to life joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” —Psalm 57:7
Still singing those praises, Beloved, even through the pain. NO one can steal my Joy!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
O Lord God of hosts,
who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
with your faithfulness all around you?
You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.